Payroll abuses uncovered at two state agencies

Aug 21, 2014

In investigations prompted by improper financial acivity at the California's parks department two years ago, state auditors found payroll abuses at two other agencies 


Paige St. John reports for The Los Angeles Times: “The reviews, conducted by the state Controller, found rates of unauthorized or improper pay in as many as 88% of the relatively small number of files examined, amounting to excess payments to state workers of nearly $230,000.”


“Auditors have called on the state agencies to conduct full internal reviews of their payroll systems for the last three years.”


Stakeholders are targeting moderate Democrats in their effort to kill the most recently proposed plastic bag ban


Jessica Calefati reports for The Mercury News: “"We're going to do everything in our power to educate legislators on the facts," said Mark Daniels, a senior vice president at Hilex Poly, an East Coast company that is the largest producer of single-use plastic grocery bags in North America.”


“Opponents led by the company have spent more than half a million dollars in lobbying fees and campaign donations, painting the proposal as a job killer.”


“But environmentalists are also expressing confidence as they dig in for an epic battle similar to their ultimately successful fight to pass California's "bottle bill" in the 1980s. The stakes are even higher this year because the clout of environmental groups is on the line after a series of embarrassing legislative defeats last year.”


State senators approved a measure that limits campaign contributions accepted by water board members from sources, in the wake of the Calderon brothers’ activity.


Patrick McGreevy reports in The Los Angeles Times: “Ronald and Tom Calderon were indicted by a federal grand jury in February on charges unrelated to the water district. The senator was accused of accepting $88,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions and the former assemblyman was charged with money laundering. They both have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.”


“The U.S. attorney’s office has also subpoenaed records from the Central Basin district, including documents involving a district contract that paid Tom Calderon more than $750,000 in consulting fees since 2004 for political and legislative advice.”


Lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment to pull pay from suspended lawmakers, but it won’t be voted on until 2016.


Jeremy B. White reports in The Sacramento Bee: “Senate Constitutional Amendment 17 emerged from the Assembly on a 64-1 vote. But because lawmakers waited until mid-August to act, voters will not decide on the proposed amendment until the 2016 election. It will not appear on the Nov. 4 ballot already featuring two measures trumpeted by both parties and by Gov. Jerry Brown – a rainy-day fund and a new water bond.”


The governor’s nomination for state librarian was given the OK by a senate panel yesterday.


Don Thompson reports for The Associated Press: “No one spoke in opposition at the hearing. However, Roy Stone, president of the Librarians' Guild, said in a telephone interview that he is still concerned.”


”"It's just not right," said Stone, who represents librarians in Los Angeles. "There's plenty of qualified librarians and he could have tapped into them."”


“The California State Library has branches near the Capitol and in San Francisco. Along with holding historical books and documents, it does research for the governor, lawmakers, other government employees and the public. It also works with local libraries around the state.”


Gov. Brown vetoed a bill that would have given the insurance commissioner authority the Department of Managed Health Care already has.


Kathy Robertson reports in the Sacramento Business Journal: “The veto message said Jones “has broad penalty authority” — and that the scope of that authority is currently in litigation. “Until this matter is resolved, it would be premature to conclude what changes, if any, should be made,” Brown said.”


“In the case he’s referring to, PacifiCare Life and Health Insurance Co. sued Jones on July 10 over his decision to impose a $173.6 million fine on the company for alleged mishandled claims and underpayments to doctors following its merger with UnitedHealthcare in 2006. The commissioner’s June 9 decision to impose the fine ignores an administrative law judge’s finding in August 2013 that the penalty should be $11.5 million, PacifiCare said in the lawsuit.”


California’s first dog took on the ice bucket challenge, stepping in for the governor.


Ryan Lillis reports in The Sacramento Bee: “At least one of the three people Mayor Kevin Johnson dared to take the Ice Bucket Challenge has declined. Sort of.”


“Gov. Jerry Brown has apparently passed on Johnson’s challenge from Tuesday. Instead, Sutter Brown – the governor’s Welsh corgi – posted a message on Twitter and Facebook saying he was “standing in for the Gov. Jerry Brown. A small bucket for a big cause.”

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